4 Main Vital Signs: What Do They Mean?

vital signs emergency and urgent care Galveston

Any time you go to the doctor or emergency room, a medical professional takes your vital signs. But how many of us just smile and nod when the numbers are read to us? Do you know what those numbers mean? Do you know why they are taken every time? Medical professionals monitor four main vital signs: body temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration rate. Here’s a quick overview of why each of these measurements is important.

The Importance of Vital Signs


This one you probably already know. Your temperature measures how hot or cool your body is. Most of us know that normal body temperature is 98.6℉, and anything above 100℉ is considered a fever. An increase in body temperature may indicate infection, injury, trauma, hyperthyroidism, or even cancer. Low body temperatures may indicate conditions such as hypothyroidism, hypothermia, sepsis, infections, liver failure, or kidney failure.

Blood pressure:

If you read our blog on blood pressure, you’ll understand what diastolic and systolic numbers mean. But do you know why should your blood pressure be taken every time? While normal blood pressure means your entire body is receiving the blood it needs to function, low or high blood pressure can cause problems like stroke, heart failure, or kidney failure.


Your pulse gives us the number of heart beats per minute, which tells us how fast your heart is beating. Normal heart rate will vary depending on your age, weight, amount of activity, and medications you take. Although a low or high heart rate can be completely harmless, it may also indicate an underlying medical condition like anemia, thyroid problems, heart disease, or stress.

Respiratory rate:

Your respiratory rate is the number of breaths you take over the course of a minute, and it reveals how much air your lungs are getting. Why should we take your respiratory rate at every doctor’s visit? It is a marker for many conditions including infections, illnesses, cardiac arrest, or a serious breathing problem.

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